Today a New York Times article reports on what appears to be a revival of Asbury Park NJ. So you can say that this blog is about the resurrection of cities.
The word ‘revival’ sounds religious, doesn’t it? Bruce Springsteen appears to be the prophet, evangelist for the Asbury Park revival.
This summer, Mr. Springsteen took note of the city’s changing fortunes during a performance at Asbury’s Wonder Bar. As he introduced another song, “Atlantic City,” he said, “But maybe everything that dies someday comes back.” He paused for a moment, before continuing, “Maybe Asbury Park is back?” — to cheers from the crowd.
The Times noted The Boss’ My City of Ruins. NYT call it a dirge. To me it sounds like an urban prophet’s prayer. Is it a prophecy that is now coming to pass?
Half ways through the Times’ article it dawned that the Salvation Army is in Asbury Park. That to Salvation Army people it is a prominent presence. The Asbury Park Corps is a place with history, tradition, staying power. Officer friends have served there. Visit its website. You’ll see a listing of activities, services, photos of the currently assigned Officers.
Does the Army have a prophetic voice in Asbury Park?
Prophets of the OT cried out and cried over deserted places and hearts. Prophets also gave words of promise and hope.
A developer is breathing life into old bones as renovation is taking place of a building, “a long vacant Salvation Army residence hall into a chic, 110-room hotel with a rooftop event space”.
The Salvation Army continues to have staying power in some tough urban places. Our friends Majors Bill and Sue Dunigan (check their Servant Corps Facebook) lead a missional community, the Servant Corps in Camden NJ, 80 miles west of Asbury Park. I believe that the Servant Corps, like our St Louis Temple Houses, represents new life breathed into the bones of an organization, a movement. A 150 year old movement.
It’s great to see old buildings with cleaned up bricks and new purpose. But it’s even greater to see life breathed into a movement. And the Army still needs more of this breath of renewal.
Here in St Louis two old Salvation Army buildings were not sold to developers. We kept them. And the Army itself became a developer. We renovated the Railton Residence and the former Harbor Light (that once was the Father Dunne Newsboy Home) into the 3010 Apartments.
They are now modern, attractive places that continue to serve the people we have always kept our commitment to serve.
But the Army in St Louis is now a community developer. Yes, we are bringers of salvation to individuals. But now we also bring salvation to communities and to a city.
Old Salvation Army buildings.
The Salvation Army building in my hometown is now serving another purpose. Last time I stopped in to see the Duluth Citadel built in 1929 it was looking good and being used as a rental hall for social events. Perhaps hosting a singer of songs.
One last story.
My first corps appointment was to Gary IN during the early 1980s when US Steel dramatically reduced its workforce. The result was steelworkers out of a job living in their cars. Families appearing at the Salvation Army for food and utility assistance.
I also remember teen boys showing up every Friday night for basketball in our little gym. It got so that I had to schedule shifts to share the gym. The growing crowd of young men would patiently wait along the sidelines for their turn. They didn’t have many other options. We had the best show in town.
One group of guys were Springsteen disciples. Morgan, Steve, Fish. They introduced me to The Boss. Born In the USA.
Bruce Springsteen. Still crying out over cities. Still preaching resurrection.